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UK: Waitrose removes plastic and foil sleeves from wine bottle necks

Waitrose has become the first UK supermarket to remove the plastic and foil sleeves from wine bottle necks, in a move to reduce unnecessary packaging.

The British retailer will remove capsules from four lines of its Loved & Found range. If the trial is a success, Waitrose plans cut down the packaging from the full ten-bottle range by the end of year, which could result in the supermarket saving an estimated half a tonne of unnecessary packaging per year.

Barry Dick, beer, wine and spirit sourcing manager for Waitrose, said: “Bottle neck sleeves were introduced many years ago to prevent pests such as moths and weevils from ruining wines kept in dark, damp cellars. The caterpillars of this moth species would bore into the wine corks, causing the wine to leak or taste musty.

“Nowadays few people have wine cellars and those who do tend to keep them in much better conditions. This has meant that the sleeves have remained for purely aesthetic reasons and are no longer needed to protect wine.”

He continued: “The quality of corks used by the wine industry has also been dramatically improved. The bottles in our trial will be corked with a new FSC cork which has been extensively tried and tested for its ability to resist being contaminated with TCA, which makes corks smell and taste mouldy and ruins wine.

“TCA is the reason why cork fell out of favour, but cork has great sustainability credentials which is why it’s making a comeback.

“The bottles look quite different as the neck appears naked, so it will be interesting to see how our customers react to us removing these familiar sleeves. I for one am looking forward to not having to wrestle with the packaging.”

In addition, Waitrose said that this year it converted “as many small wine bottles as possible” to cans, thereby halving its carbon footprint per drink.


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